Analysis

Adelson stand-in makes LVS sports betting reverse

The acting CEO of Las Vegas Sands has reportedly opened discussions on entering the sports betting field days after Sheldon Adelson went on sick leave.

The news that Las Vegas Sands’ Sheldon Adelson was once again taking time away from the firm to fight cancer had just come out than reports suggested the interim LVS boss was having a look at regulated sports betting.

Adelson has history with expanded gaming in the U.S. The Trump-supporting billionaire has waged a largely one-man war against online gambling.

However, time is catching up with the ailing 87-year-old. It was announced last week that he was once again leaving his post at the helm of the company he founded due to health reasons.

Then on Friday it emerged that acting chief executive Robert Goldstein was in discussions with potential sports betting partners.

According to a report on Bloomberg, the plans could involve using the Sands brands for the development of a betting platform by the company.

As the report pointed out, any moves into sports- etting would likely involve a move online. This would go against all that Adelson has said about online.

Symbolic move

The move on the part of LVS would be largely symbolic. Though it would signal the end of one of the major blocks to expanded online sports betting and gaming, the actual impact of an LVS sports betting product would be limited.

The consistent opposition to online has meant LVS has ceded ground to old and new competitors.

Erstwhile rivals such as MGM, Caesars and Penn National have made significant progress in broadening their approach. 

Meanwhile, challengers such as DraftKings and FanDuel have staked out the ground in various key states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

As such, LVS entering any given market would be unlikely to the dial according to the Wedge Index of gaming friendliness. Instead, it would at best be accorded a second-tier status. 

Much would depend on the type of agreement it signed with platforms and license partners. 

However, LVS is very late to the party.

Leaving Las Vegas

An alternative option has already been discussed – exiting Nevada altogether and concentrating on its Asian land-based gaming assets.

Via its subsidiary Sands China, LVS is a leading casino operator in Macau and Singapore.

The lobbying against online by Adelson has been a consistent feature of the U.S. gaming landscape for many years. It is apparently a moral stance – Adelson believes it is too easy for players to lose money online.

Should Adelson’s temporary leave become permanent, it would leave LVS free to choose a new course without the moral baggage of its octogenarian boss.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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